Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Interaction is critical for the evolution of the language

Date:
July 5, 2011
Source:
Facultad de Informática de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid
Summary:
An international research group offers evidence for an alternative to the most popular theories on the evolution of language.

Representation refinement and alignment for the concept "Parliament" and "Soap Opera", drawings taken from the start and end of six games of the task.
Credit: FIUPM

An international research group, including of the Department of Artificial Intelligence of the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid's Facultad de Informatica, has concluded that collaboration and interaction are essential elements in the evolution of language. They also have shown that the most effective forms of communication can propagate in a community in a similar way to a virus.

The results of this research were published in the academic journal Cognitive Science.

This work provides evidence that supports a collaborative theory of the evolution of language, one in which language evolves out of the coordinated activity of communicators. It also offers evidence for an alternative to present theories that explain the evolution of language based upon the passing of language from one generation to another much as genes are passed from a parent to her offspring.

New experiment on communication

In this work, researchers from the University of Western Australia, the University of Glasgow and the UPM used a novel communication experiment, one that prohibited participants from using their existing language, to create a context in which human subjects could develop simple communication systems in a laboratory setting.

The participants were grouped in communities of eight people, or micro-societies, and participated in a graphical communication game similar to "Pictionary." The representations that subjects created and used to communicate evolved from simple iconic representations to more symbolic and abstract representations, like words in today's spoken languages.

The main result of this work is evidence that supports one of the alternative theories explaining the evolution of language, in which collaboration and interaction are critical. Also, it was shown that the most effective ways of communicating can spread through a community like a virus from person to person.

New light on an old debate

At present, very little is known regarding how spoken language evolved. This is largely due to the lack of evidence regarding how early humans communicated. Written language does give some clues regarding how language developed, but our earliest written texts date from thousands of years ago, while it is believed that humans have had linguistic capacities for more than a hundred thousand years.

Thus, despite a great deal of philosophical speculation regarding the evolution of spoken languages, very few facts exist to validate these accounts. This research sheds new light on this old debate.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Facultad de Informática de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicolas Fay, Simon Garrod, Leo Roberts, Nik Swoboda. The Interactive Evolution of Human Communication Systems. Cognitive Science, 2010; 34 (3): 351 DOI: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2009.01090.x

Cite This Page:

Facultad de Informática de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. "Interaction is critical for the evolution of the language." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705071531.htm>.
Facultad de Informática de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. (2011, July 5). Interaction is critical for the evolution of the language. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705071531.htm
Facultad de Informática de la Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. "Interaction is critical for the evolution of the language." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/07/110705071531.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Coffee Then Napping: The (New) Key To Alertness

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — Researchers say having a cup of coffee then taking a nap is more effective than a nap or coffee alone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

Young Entrepreneurs Get $100,000, If They Quit School

AFP (Aug. 29, 2014) — Twenty college-age students are getting 100,000 dollars from a Silicon Valley leader and a chance to live in San Francisco in order to work on the start-up project of their dreams, but they have to quit school first. Duration: 02:20 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Baby Babbling Might Lead To Faster Language Development

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — A new study suggests babies develop language skills more quickly if their parents imitate the babies' sounds and expressions and talk to them often. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Electrical Stimulation Boosts Brain Function, Study Says

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — Researchers found an improvement in memory and learning function in subjects who received electric pulses to their brains. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins